speed-bump-generator.jpgA British supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s, opened a new store yesterday where the checkouts will be people-powered. The store features a new kinetic energy generator that will draw power from moving vehicles in the Gloucester supermarket’s parking lot.

Whenever a vehicle passes over the ‘Kinetic Road Plates’ in the car park, energy is captured and channeled back into the store saving power that would normally be taken from the National Grid.

The road plates are expected to produce 30 kW of green energy an hour, more than enough to power the store’s checkouts. The system, pioneered for Sainsbury’s by Peter Hughes of Highway Energy Systems, does not affect the car or fuel efficiency; and drivers feel no disturbance as they drive over the plates.    

How it works:

    * Vehicles drive over the road plates placed in the road surface of the car park
    * Plates are rounded so that it does not matter which direction you travel over the ramp
    * The plates are pushed down by the weight of the vehicle
    * This creates rocking motions under the road surface that turn generators
    * The generators create energy which is captured, redirected back to the store, and used as power for the checkouts and for other purposes

“This is revolutionary. Not only are we the first to use such cutting-edge green technology with our shoppers, but customers can now play a very active role in helping to make their local shop more energy efficient, without extra effort or cost,” said Alison Austin, Sainsbury’s environment manager. “We want to continue offering great value but we also want to make the weekly shop sustainable. Using amazing technology like this helps us reduce our use of carbon and makes Sainsbury’s a leading energy-efficient business.”

The ‘Kinetic Road Plates’ are one of many energy-saving measures at Sainsbury’s new green store in Gloucester (Gloucester Quays). The chain has been actively reducing its carbon footprint both in the construction and the running of its stores. Since the opening of its flagship environmental store in Dartmouth last summer, many environmental measures have now become standard in the design of all new stores across the UK, including a recently-opened store in Worcester.

Sainsbury supplied this list of environmental features found in its Gloucester Quays store:

  • Over two years, the store will harvest enough rainwater to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool. We will use this to flush all of our toilets
  • Solar thermal panels heat up to 100% of our hot water during the summer
  • The store aims to reduce mains water usage by 50% compared to other existing stores of this size built before 2006
  • Electricity reduction is a high priority in-store and measures have been taken in the design process to ensure maximum use of natural daylight
  • The floor to ceiling windows at the front of the store maximise natural light
  • We have installed 140 sun pipes in the roof to allow natural light in and help save energy
  • The electric lights within the store are on automatic dimmers so less electricity will be used on brighter days
  • Stopped over 90% of the construction waste going to landfill by re-using it or recycling it
  • At night we pull down blinds over our fridges. This saves 5% energy per year, which is equivalent to making 2.5 million cups of tea
  • Extra secure cycle spaces have been installed to make it easier for customers to shop by bike, and the cyclepod is made from over 12,500 aluminium cans. By using recycled aluminium, cyclepods save the equivalent energy to power a TV for 600 hours
  • We retrieve the cold air from our fridges and re-use it to keep the checkout area cool
  • LEDs which shine brighter in cold environments are also being used in the frozen food sections and the cold warehouse area behind the shop floor
  • Energy usage in store will be constantly monitored via web-based technology that will show how much energy is being consumed in each part of the store. This can automatically be adjusted if areas are using more than they require

Thanks to Andrew Norris for submitting the link!

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